Pan-African low-cost airline Fastjet has started daily flights between Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, and Dar es Salaam, the commercial centre of Tanzania, to meet passenger demand. Previously, the airline flew between the two cities four times a week. “We have always promised to increase the frequency on our route between Lusaka and Dar es Salaam as and when our customers demand it,” stated Fastjet chief commercial officer Richard Bodin. “The increased daily frequencies emphasise our commitment to growing our flight schedule in Zambia, making air travel easy, safe and affordable.”
The new frequencies started on September 13 and provide about 1 000 more seats on the route, which is flown between Zambia’s Kenneth Kaunda International Airport and Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere International Airport. Fares will start at $50, one-way, excluding government taxes.
“We are really thrilled at the positive reception that Fastjet has enjoyed in Zambia,” said Bodin. “With our low-cost fares, Fastjet is making air travel more accessible than ever before for Zambians, with many of our passengers being first-time flyers who would otherwise not have been able to afford to travel by air.”
The airline is also well advanced with its application to Zambia’s Ministry of Transport and Department of Civil Aviation for an air operating certificate, which will allow it to operate on domestic routes within Zambia. These flights will be carried out by Fastjet Zambia and the proposed routes are between Lusaka, Ndola and Livingstone.
Fastjet has been recruiting Zambians to staff the new operation, including pilots, other air crew, customer support and sales personnel, in a process that has been recently concluded. Fastjet Zambia is expected to have around 170 staff, which is the size of the workforce for Fastjet Tanzania. As in the case of Tanzania, the setting up of the Fastjet operation in Zambia is also expected to create hundreds of indirect jobs. Fastjet Zambia will also, it is planned, operate international flights from Lusaka to Kenya (Nairobi), South Africa (Johannesburg) and Zimbabwe (Harare).
Fastjet has signed a letter of intent to buy an Airbus A319 airliner. This will be a used aircraft and is reported to be nine years old. An A319 can carry, depending on configuration, between 145 and 156 passengers and is part of the A320 family of single-aisle airliners. This airliner is reported to be the first that will be owned by the airline, its current fleet of five A319s being entirely composed of leased aircraft. The aeroplane being bought will be assigned to Fastjet Zambia. The fourth and fifth of Fastjet’s A319s were both leased during this year. This means that the airline, originally launched in November 2012 with an initial fleet of three A319s (based in Tanzania), will have doubled its fleet during the course of this year. It has been reported that one of the jets leased this year will be based in Zimbabwe and the other will go to Tanzania.
Further, earlier this year, Fastjet CEO Ed Winter told the media in London that the airline’s fleet would be expanded to between 8 and 11 by the end of this year. It has also been reported that the airline could grow its fleet to 34 aircraft by the end of 2018, 66% of which it would own. He also indicated that the airline would focus on Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe, countries which accounted for about 20% of Africa’s population. Since then, the airline has also been granted permission by the Malawi government to operate on the Lilongwe–Dar es Salaam route, twice a week.